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Call Me Jonny Six Seconds

by R P Gibson 5 months ago in Short Story
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A lot can happen in six seconds, but there's usually not a lot I can do about it

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

They call me ‘Jonny Six Seconds’.

And by “they” I mean the imaginary people who cheer me on in my head. They’re all I have.

I don’t really talk to anyone, so no one knows what I can do. No one knows that I’m special. Thing is, even if I did talk to people it would be hard to explain, and even harder to prove.

Maybe a better name for me would be The Watchman. But honestly, I prefer Jonny Six Seconds.

You see, I have a superpower. Although that doesn’t really make me a superhero.

I don’t know if you’d call it a “power” really, or even if “super” is all that appropriate. More like a “superfluous-power” if you get what I mean. I’m not sure.

I don’t wear a cape or a mask or do anything useful, really. If you see me, which you probably won’t, you’ll think I look an ordinary kid in his twenties: messy brown hair, lopsided moustache, green overcoat, black corduroy pants.

Usually I’m just wandering around the city looking at all the things I’m powerless to prevent.

You see my power is this: I can see six seconds in to the future.

“Just six seconds?” you’re probably wondering. “How is that useful?”

Well, it isn’t, truth be told. A lot can happen in six seconds, but there’s usually not a lot I can do about it.

This is how it works: I get flashes from time to time, where I see something about to happen just before it does. I can’t control it or anything, it just happens.

You’ve heard of déjà vu, right? Well, the French have another term called presque vu, which is for those tip of the tongue moments where you feel you’re just about to have a really powerful moment of insight, which then doesn’t happen.

My flashes feel like somewhere between the two. That’s the closest I can get to describe it..

I wish I had the power to look back, instead of forward, to see where everything went wrong for me. Why everyone left.

Or look forward further, to see if things will work out, and if anyone will come back.

But I can’t. All I get is these six second flashes every now and then. Slow steps that take me nowhere.

The first time it happened I was walking down the street and there was a girl in front of me. She was pretty. Wearing high heels and a dress suit. If I had anything interesting to say I’d have spoke to her.

I wasn’t following her or anything weird like that, in case you’re wondering, we just so happened to be heading in the same direction and walking at the same pace.

Then I got a flash in my head: I saw her heel snap on her left shoe. I saw her knee buckle. I saw her arms go up to try and catch herself. And I saw her fall. Really nasty looking fall as well. Twisted her ankle and busted her knee. Put a hole in her tights. Smashed her head on the curb really bad.

I had six seconds to react and do something about it, to save this poor girl. It just wasn’t enough time, I was frozen. So I had to see it happen again, this time in real life.

Her heel snapped. Her knee buckled. Her arms went up. Ankle twisted, knee busted, head smashed.

Before I could think what to do next, someone had already ran over to see if she was okay. He was the real hero. Some ordinary guy. I just stood there watching, wondering what happened and thinking how utterly powerless I was to make a difference.

“Well don’t just stand there and watch,” the hero said. “What’s the matter with you? Call an ambulance”

If only he knew. If only it was that easy.

I never called that ambulance. Never found out what happened to the lady in the heels. But I’ve been walking the streets trying to make up for it ever since.

* * *

Short Story

About the author

R P Gibson

British writer of history, humour and occasional other stuff. I'll never use a semi-colon and you can't make me. More here -

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